Somehow I managed to stay awake long enough last night (I think it had to do with the state of the hotel room where I was staying--not going there right now) to finish Martha Brooks' MISTIK LAKE. Now I can add my voice to the others praising this novel. I have long been a fan of this author. Her story collection, THE LEAVING AND OTHER STORIES, is perfection. MISTIK LAKE is a novel that spans three generations of women in one family, a family often marked by tragedy but also marked by their strong women, young and old. Odella is 17 and is wondering about some of the family secrets suddenly coming to light. Somehow these secrets seem connected to Mistik Lake. It was the place where Odella's mother managed to walk away from a tragic accident that killed some of her friends. It is the place her Auntie Gloria avoids when she can. And now it is the place that connects her to Jimmy Tomasson.
As the title suggests, the lake is the source of great sorrow and tremendous happiness as well. What is the hallmark of Brooks' work is her ability to find the heart of the story. David Booth in READING DOESN'T MATTER ANYMORE makes a wonderful observation when he reminds us that reading has to be about the heart of the story or it does not matter to kids or to us. This book has so much heart and that is exemplified in Odella's ability to deal with loss and still seek her own happiness. Wow.